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home > News/Analysis  >Attack On The Akshardham Temple: The Aftermath  > Reflections on Gandhinagar Temple Attack
By Mukul Dube
Reflections on Gandhinagar Temple Attack
Mukul Dube, September 25, 2002

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A while ago the All India Radio news bulletin said that papers found in the pockets of the terrorists killed in the Gandhinagar temple storming spoke of a group whose name had not been heard before. Speculation therefore is that the group was formed specifically to avenge the post-Godhra violence.

Since the affair began yesterday, I have spoken to several people about it. Here I shall describe the reactions of two of them. They both happen to be Muslims, which is neither here nor there as both were speaking only as rational human beings. I mention their religion only to suggest that all of us have it in us to be rational, even when we are under great strain.

One, a writer and poet and former teacher, said that he was reminded of the Godhra incident. Specifically, he said that this (or this too) might be a provocation. He said that rabid Hindutvavadis would think nothing of sacrificing a few of their own pawns if the gains to be had were substantial. These gains would be, of course, the attacking and butchering of very many hundreds of Muslims, which action would be declared justified because it was inspired by the provocation. He pointed to what he saw as a further parallel: the bandh call given by the VHP. Finally, he said that his speculation was most probably wrong.

The second, a welder who runs his own small fabrication business, said that a man's patience and his ability to withstand pain were limited. In the beginning he would think that the action which caused him discomfort was an accident, later he would try to ignore it -- but finally, when it had gone on long enough and had been shown to be deliberate, he would lose his cool. That is, a person pushed to the wall, hands tied behind his back, who saw many of his kind being shot against that very wall, was liable to go berserk. "I probably won't live long, and in any case I don't want to live this way -- so, if I am to die, why not take a few with me?" This will take the place of reason.

I can see the temptation of the first line of thought. Something happened very recently, something incredibly big, so we are bound to see in every new event a possible repetition of that. But I opt for the second line; which I shall put in a slightly different way: Lunacy Begets Lunacy. This is not to justify it, only a possible explanation.

I cannot understand Mr. Advani's harping on the theme that the Gujarat temple attack was a response to failure in Kashmir. I doubt that anyone else can see the connection; and I am certain that no one can forget the likely connection with what began in Gujarat on 28 February 2002. Advani is saying that groups of terrorists exist for whom Kashmir and Gujarat are interchangeable fields of action. I do not know if he means Pakistan or the World Muslim Brotherhood which he will have created many times over. These guys are really creative.

Nor can I understand Mr. Arun Jaitley, that other master of sophistry and side-stepping, repeatedly evading questions by singing his song about the reaction of a "mature democracy". I can clearly recall what this Jaitley said and did not say when people were being raped and burnt and massacred in Gujarat, and I am forced to conclude that for him, that must have been an example of "mature democracy". Except he hadn't found this particular buzz word then.

Terrorism has always been thought a bad thing. In this year since the WTC attack, though, it has achieved a prominence which it never had before: possibly because Mr. George W. Bush, Jr., the Ultimate Arbiter, declared it not just a bad thing but the worst.

I do not argue with the label "terrorist" being given to the men who managed to carry a large supply of rifles and magazines and grenades into the temple in Gandhinagar. But I see that they are easy to so label because they were few and they worked in secret. Those who do their thing in bands of hundreds, in the daytime and in full view of all, cannot be so easily labelled terrorists.

I believe, though, that we should rethink the label so that it may be applied also to the butchers and rapists of Gujarat. If Saddam can be the head of one "terrorist state", why should apro very own N. Modi be denied the honour? He has the backing of the Advanis and the Jaitleys, after all, both big guns in what they clearly hope to turn into a terrorist nation-state.